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(famous for Mad Jack Fuller)

Name Derivation

General Details

Brightling East Sussex - St Thomas  Becket church
The village of Brightling is a small farming community settled soon after the Saxon invasion of 475, the location of the village is probably lower down the hill from the original settlement which was a fortified point on the top of the hill nearer the current Jack Fullers Observatory.

In 1757 its most famous resident John Fuller ( also known as Mad Jack ), was born into one of the iron-founding families, who owned the mansion adjoining the Church. The Family became famous for its iron furnace at Heathfield which produced guns and cannons for the navy, and the forge at Burwash Weald which produced a wide range of implements. Mad Jack was one of the great English Eccentrics, a famous politician and patron of science and the arts, who enjoyed building follies.

Brightling has a collection of Follies built by Mad Jack , these consist of :-
  • Brightling Needle - a 40 ft high obelisk built on the top of the hill at Brightling, used as a beacon point during the Napoleonic Wars, and now by the ordinance survey as the second highest point in Sussex.
  • The Sugar Loaf - This was known as Fullers Point, and was built to win a wager made by Mad Jack , that he could see the Spire of Dallington Church from his house, which he could not.
  • The Temple - This is a small temple/Summer House, in the grounds of Brightling Park, built to resemble a Greek Temple.
  • The Observatory - This is built on the top of the hill at Brightling, and for many years famous for its instruments. This area is also believed to be the place that Turner, the landscape painter, did many of his paintings.
  • The Watch Tower - Again built by Mad Jack , it was believed that it was built so that he could watch the restoration of Bodiam castle, which he had previously bought.
  • The Pyramid - Built in the churchyard this was to be Mad Jack Fullers mausoleum, it was only allowed to be built by the Rector if a new Public House, replacing the one opposite the church, was to be built 1/2 mile away. This was known until recently as the "Jack Fullers" ;. One final legend of the Pyramid, was that Jack Fuller was buried inside, sitting up wearing a Top hat and holding a bottle of claret, this may or may not be true.
During Mad Jacks era, the famous artist, Turner painted a number of country scenes of Sussex, these were painted on and around Jack Fullers Estate.

The area under Brightling is a rich source of Gypsum, which is mined under the hills, and transported to Mountfield for processing via a 5 mile long conveyor belt, resembling a giant centipede.


Brightling East Sussex - The Pyramid in the churchyard
Brightling as a small village has few local services, with the exception of the St Thomas a Becket C.E. church. The nearest small towns are Battle about 6 miles to the South East, and Heathfield about 8 miles to the North West.

The nearest trains and main buses can be caught at Etchingham about 5 miles, and Robertsbridge about 4 miles. The nearest large town shopping centres are in Hastings about 10 miles South East, and Tunbridge Wells 17 miles to the North.


Brightling East Sussex - The village
The best views from Brightling are firstly from outside the church looking North West across the valley towards Burwash.

Secondly from Jack Fullers Observatory, North to the North Downs, and South West across the Pevensey Levels to the South Downs at Eastbourne .

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